You know of course that my husband was Lord Mayor only two years ago and that he’s still a magistrate. ” Eva Smith went to an organization to which women in distress could appeal for help in various forms. Mrs. Birling was a prominent member of the committee and refused to help Eva. Mrs. Birling said she did this because initially, Eva had called herself Mrs. Birling. Also, she said “I didn’t like her manner. She’d impertinently made use of our name, though she pretended afterward to be the first name she thought of. She to admit, after I began questioning her, that she also had no claim to the name, that she wasn’t married, and that the story she told first, about a husband who’d deserted her- was quite
false. It didn’t take me long to get the truth out of her. ” Eva eventually told her the truth, which was that a young, drunken man had got her pregnant but after a while she refused money from him because she had suspicions that the money was stolen. When the organization refused to help her, she felt she had no way out. That was the last thing to happen to Eva before she killed herself. The dramatic effects in these scenes are particularly noticeable when Mrs. Birling is placing the responsibility for Eva’s suicide on the young man who got Eva pregnant. We don’t know who the young man is, although we have our suspicions.
So the Inspector encourages Mrs. Birling in her desire to make an example of example of the young man and make him give a public confession of his responsibility. The audience can see that this situation has something to do with Eric and that Mrs Birling is going to be humiliated. At the end of the act Eric walks in pale-faced and distressed. The curtain falls. This is a dramatic device, the appearance of Eric at this point, also confirms the audience’s suspicions that he is the culprit. They know something exciting is going to happen in the next act and they look forward to it, with curiosity and wonder.
In the next act Eric is ‘inspected. ‘ He is the one who got Eva pregnant. Eric met Eva in The Palace Bar, where he had already been drinking. He bought Eva some drinks and went home with her. She didn’t want him to but he threatened to make a row, so she let him in. They met again a fortnight later and made love again. Eva then found out she was pregnant. In his way Eric does try to put things right. He offers her marriage, but she refuses because she doesn’t love him and he provides her with money until she refused to take anymore when she discovered that he had stolen the money from his father’s office. Eric was an insecure person.
He shows this because of his bad drinking habits. He is miserable for what he has done. This shows he cares, and feels guilty for what he has done. Priestly shows the level of blame that should be attached to each character, by showing their different reactions. Those who are most sorry tend to receive less blame in the end, than those who refuse to acknowledge their responsibility and show little guilt. Sheila and Mrs Birling committed fairly similar crimes against Eva. Both judged her and used their position in society against her. However, we feel less inclined to blame Sheila when we realise she has learned her lesson.
Gerald and Eric both used Eva in a similar manner, they both considered her attractive. They both slept with her and offered her money. Gerald was more considerate to her and was more interested in her feeling and was sensible. However, Eric was very drunk and forced her to let him into her home. Eric felt miserable and guilty about what they had done. Gerald was upset she killed herself but not for using her as his mistress. Mr Birling felt no responsibility or guilt from the start. He didn’t even show any emotion to her suicide.
He only cared about how the scandal would look in public, or how it might effect his chances of receiving a knighthood. If we consider each separate action, it seems clear that they are all equally to blame. However, blame and forgiveness go together. The people you ban forgive the most, you blame the least. Because of their remorse and guilt, I blame Sheila least and find Mr Birling the hardest to forgive and therefore the most blameworthy.